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Scientist Claims Hearing Wind Chimes Makes Vegetables Taste Better

Oxford professor Charles Spence says that the garden ornament’s sound suppresses bitter tastes and enhances sweetness.
Foto door Flickr-gebruikers Kent Kanouse

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Green juice might be good for you but the murky combo of spinach, kale, and celery is hardly the most appetising thing in the world. Really, the only time bitter greens taste good is when you fry the hell out of them. Now, though, one scientist has proposed another, less conventional way to make particularly pungent vegetables taste better.

According to Charles Spence, professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University, the secret to getting over any veggie phobias (Brussels sprouts, we're looking at you) is a visit to the garden centre. No, not as a form of torturous punishment for fussy eating, but to pick up a wind chime.


Yes, really.

As part of new research carried out by smoothie brand Innocent into kids' eating habits, Spence suggested ways to make the most hated fruit and vegetables (sprouts, tomatoes, cabbage, and spinach all made the top ten) more appealing. One of his top tips was to play high pitched, chirpy sounds to children as they eat. He claims that this so-called "sonic seasoning" suppresses bitter tastes and enhances sweetness. Other suggestions for making picky kids (and probably some adults) eat their greens included arranging food into a picture before eating and playing with fruit and veg, which Spence says encourages familiarity with the food.

But do these food hacks actually work? In his book, Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating, Spence also notes his use of "sonic seasoning" in experiments with Heston Blumenthal, when the pair found that high-pitched, tinkling notes enhanced the sweetness of bittersweet cinder toffee. Scientists have also claimed that using our hands to eat makes the experience more pleasurable, compared to cutlery. However, Spence admits in the book that, "The effects [of the sonic seasoning], it should be said, weren't huge (5 to 10 percent)…"

It's also not the first time that scientists have tried to manipulate people's tastebuds to make fruit and vegetables taste better. There are spoons and forks that use low-level electric currents to alter how sweet or salty a food tastes, while other scientists believe the key to increasing our enjoyment of food is by controlling what we smell.

The only real way to test Spence's theory? Get yourself down to B&Q for a tinkling garden ornament and then steam some cabbage. Just make sure to keep the receipt.